Since the draft has come and gone, there have been many people who are asking where's the pass rush? Is it hiding? Did we lose it on the way to the stadium? Why didn't the coach/gm/genius draft a guy who could get after the quarterback higher in the draft? Why all the running backs? Why no game breaking receiver? I got a question. Are you paid to coach the New England Patriots? If you are sitting at home like I am seeing this crap. Listening to Mike Reiss crying. Listening to fans crying. It just makes me sick to hear it. I'm not saying that the fans don't have a legit concern. But this is something that cannot be controlled by the fans. This isn't Madden football where you can do all kinds of crazy stuff. More after the jump.
I just saw a post on the Mike Reiss ESPNBoston blog about the Patriots. It had Trey Wingo, Mark Schlereth, and Macellus Wiley commenting on how New England didn't address a key need. The pass rush. I have to keep reminding myself that these guys don't really know this team. Even I don't know this team. I don't see it the way coach Belichick does. He has forgotten more about football than I'll ever know. I'm not saying that he is infallible, but he is in tune with what is going on better than anyone I know. I have been saying that while everyone was staring at the pass rush, they forgot about the offensive line and that 3 out of 5 starters are in flux. How nice would it be to play games and watch the defense get after the passer, but watch the Patriots on their 9th string quarterback because of no line to protect him? I get mad but I have to catch myself because if these guys were really good, they would be GMs and coaches themselves. They wouldn't be sitting behind a desk talking about a team they know really from a distance.
The Patriots went 14-2 last season with decent to good talent. Late in games, like San Deigo, the Colts, the Steelers, and the Jets blowout, New England struggled to run the football. They struggled to close it out. In the dubious Browns game they struggled to get off to a good start and it cost them. The fact is that having a guy who can consistently threaten the signal caller would help the defense a lot. But it would not solve all the problems. I strongly feel that the ability to run the football in key situations is where we will find out a lot about this team. Some teams you have to line up and punch them in the mouth and see what they are all about. And certainly you need to do that come playoff time.
Everyone talks about it being a passing league. And how you need a great quarterback to lead your team. He cannot block, catch or run. He cannot do it by himself. He is part of a team. If one man misses his assignment it could all be over. Not just the game, a career. Too much credit is given to the quarterbacking position because he is such a central figure. To me without a solid running game, too much of the game is sat on the shoulders of the quarterback. Which leads to him being hit a lot. Which shortens his career.
In order for the New England Patriots to take the next step. In order for them to win their next Lombardi trophy, they are going to have to run the ball better. They have the horses to do it. It starts with the offensive line. I hope Dan Connolly took that Jets playoff loss personally. He was beaten on some plays. And I hope he has done nothing but get stronger this off season. I think Marcus Cannon will play this season. And if he plays I think there will be much to fear if you do not like the Patriots. :)